Expert Travel Tips from Twitter's Melissa Barnes
Melissa Barnes, Twitter's head of global brands, shares her business travel tips, from how she fights jet-lag to her go-to app.
Q: How often do you travel?
A: Between 50% and 60% of my time is on the road.
Q: What is your go-to travel app?
A: American Airlines app. I've checked into many a flight as I'm speeding to the airport. (Disclaimer: I'm usually in the back of a cab and not driving when I'm checking in via my phone)
Q: What are your must-pack items?
A: A charger for my Mac, an international converter, workout clothes, a pair of heels, and a good dress. And I'm always packing a few extra super chargers for my phone. As long as I've got power, I can figure the rest out.
Q: Any tips for packing for a business trip?
A: Carry-on, always. I have a bag that's always about 75% packed. I have two sets of toiletries, two pairs of running shoes, etc. so that I can have one set on standby in my suitcase. I never pack a hair dryer—every hotel has one. And as much as I love holding a real book in my hands, when I'm traveling for work, I read everything on e-book.
Q: Airport lounge amenity you can’t live without?
A: Showers can be a lifesaver. They make you feel instantly human when you've just come off a long flight and have another leg to go.
Q: How do you stay healthy on the road?
A: Wash your hands. Frequently.
Q: Any tips for fighting jet lag?
A: Seek out natural light to reset your clock. Go for a run in the morning. Keep your blinds open during the day. I love to walk a city, so that's another way to be in the sunlight and also stay awake—if you're moving, you can't fall asleep.
Q: What are your red-eye survival tactics?
A: I'm terrible at sleeping on planes, so it's really more about what happens immediately after I get off the red-eye. I always call the hotel ahead of time to let them know I'll be checking in early. And in a perfect world, there's enough time to take a shower before I go into my first meeting of the day.
Q: Favorite airport?
A: Spokane, Washington. I grew up in Idaho, and that's what I fly in and out of to see my family. When I land there it means I'm home.
Q: Favorite airline cabin?
A: Given how much I travel, I should pay attention to these things, but I don't. Just get me there.
Q: What is one amenity from a hotel or airline that really makes you feel understood as a business traveler?
A: Rush dry cleaning.
Q: Who are you loyal to?
A: American. I actually don't do loyalty programs for hotels. I think when you stay at the same chain with the same amenities and design in every city, you start to forget where you are. Give me a boutique hotel in a great neighborhood every time.
Q: What's the most valuable perk that comes with your status?
A: Problem solving. Just this morning I had a flight cancelled out of SFO. They instantly rebooked me, but the flight they initially put me on had me landing after I was due to make a big presentation. I called the American Executive Platinum desk and they immediately booked me on a flight on a different airline that got me there in time. Some of my team members who were on the same flight and didn't have status weren't so lucky.
Q: What drives you crazy every time you travel?
A: The overhead speakers in airports. Don't they know I'm on a call?
Q: Hotel breakfast standby?
A: Black coffee. Yogurt.
Q: Favorite in-room dining indulgence?
A: The Charlotte Street Hotel in London has these grapefruit candies that are addictive. I can't not eat them.
—As told to Brooke Porter Katz